Bhusal thanks govt as NRA looks to fifth CEO in 3 years

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu
The latest government move is expected to cause further delays in the reconstruction efforts

Jul 6, 2018-The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is set to witness a leadership change for the fifth time over three years, with the KP Oli government deciding to revoke all the political appointments made by the erstwhile government under Sher Bahadur Deuba after August 30, 2017.

Incumbent NRA Chief Executive Yubaraj Bhusal  had replaced Govinda Raj Pokharel in October last year after the latter resigned from the post to contest in the federal elections.

Following the government decision, a scheduled NRA Advisory Council meeting could not commence on Thursday morning. Oblivious about the Cabinet decision made late on Wednesday night, NRA CEO Bhusal along with his team had reached Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s residence in Baluwatar at 8:30am.

“The council meeting was cancelled at 9am after we learnt about the decision,” Bhusal told the Post.

He said he held a brief meeting with PM Oli where he thanked the government for allowing him to serve as the head of the NRA for around five months. “In response, the PM thanked me for my contributions to the post-earthquake reconstruction efforts,” he said.

Even though the government had made a blanket decision, Bhusal said he had not received formal correspondence till 5pm on Thursday. “I am still at my office and awaiting the letter from the government. I will step down once I receive it,” Bhusal said, adding that he does not hold any resentment over the government decision. “The NRA CEO needs to work in close coordination with the PM. Hence, I don’t have any grievance.”

Ever since its inception in the aftermath of the Gorkha Earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of houses, the NRA seems to have become a political playground for parties. Pokhrel was appointed as NRA’s first chief executive by the then Sushil Koirala government in August 2015. But Pokhrel stepped down after his appointment was annulled due to lack of law.

The Oli government, which succeeded Koirala as PM. then appointed Sushil Gyewali as NRA chief. But the government under Pushpa Kamal Dahal, with the Nepali Congress as its coalition partner, sacked Gyewali in January 2017 and brought Pokhrel back at the NRA helm. Former finance secretary Bhusal, who is the in-law of senior NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel, was then appointed to the top NRA post.

NRA officials feel that the parties have been using the authority as a political playground. “If the NRA is to function effectively, an eligible CEO should be chosen through open competition and allowed to work without political intervention.

Staff, who have been working at the authority, too are eligible to take the lead. They also have know-how on the way reconstruction process is being carried out,” an NRA official said, expressing his displeasure over frequent change in the leadership.

The latest government move is expected to cause further delays in the reconstruction of damaged houses, with thousands of quake survivors still awaiting government housing grant. Many of them are still living in temporary shelters or damaged houses.

The NRA records show that only 233,596 out of the 807,486 households eligible for the housing grant, have rebuilt their homes.

Published: 06-07-2018 07:29

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